Football: Sport on TV: Pub performers given final push by a safe pair of hands
Saturday 25 September 1999
Then there was Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest, whose more innocent practice of buying ice lollies for players as a reward for hard work in training seemed to pay far more handsome dividends.
Perhaps, not surprisingly, the methods called upon by all-round steady influence David Seaman in Guiding Stars (Sky One, Sunday) were based on the teachings of neither of these great men. In the programme, the Arsenal and England goalkeeper was given a managerial debut challenge of turning around the fortunes of Chiltern FC, a hapless Sunday league pub side who had never before made it past the first round of their local knockout tournament, the Bill Finch Subsidiary Cup.
Seaman spent six months overseeing training sessions and generally knocking the side into shape, relying on a mixture of jolly laughter and morale- boosting bobble hats as his chief psychological weaponry. Despite one or two teething problems - his ill-advised suggestion that the players stay away from the pub on Saturday night and stick to a diet of boiled chicken was greeted with general hilarity - the tactics seemed to work. By the end of the first episode of this two-parter, Chiltern had scraped through to the final after a series of cliffhanging extra-time victories.
It all made for compulsive viewing, just watching the matches brought memories of Sunday morning hangovers flooding back, but at the same time it was difficult not to feel sorry for the other teams in the competition who were clearly no longer competing on a level playing field, despite the best efforts of Seaman and the cameras to maintain a low profile.
Narrated by Mark Radcliffe, Guiding Stars promises more of the same in the coming weeks - Lawrence Dallaglio is scheduled for an appearance at some stage, I wonder if he'll be showing prospective young rugby players how to go about arranging a sponsorship deal.
There was hardly long enough to stock up on lager and curry again before the ever-majestic Mark and Lard were back on our screens. This time they were at the helm of Match of the Nineties (BBC1, Monday), as we were time- warped back through the mists to 1998 - the year in which Arsenal won the Double, Chelsea won the Cup-Winners' Cup and the English adopted David Beckham as their official National Hate Figure.
A vintage year then, made all the more poignant by the realisation that the final whistle, surely with no prospect of extra time, looms large for this consistently mighty series. As ever there were no shortage of talking points, with Mark and Lard in customary fine form, yet it was a crafty reverse pass by the producers midway through the programme that really caught my imagination.
The trick was as simple as it was inspired: take the match highlights, strip away the TV sound and replace it with commentary of the same game from Radio Five Live's Alan Green and Ron Jones. Whether it was a move borne out of expediency or sheer genius, it certainly worked. I was left pondering why - and I intend no disrespect to either Lord Motson or Sir Barry of Davies, God bless you squires, long may you reign - the brilliant duo never made that supposed step onwards and upwards into the television gantry.
Personally I'd like to see Mark and Lard, or maybe even Reeves and Mortimer, given the chance to do radio commentary on the FA Cup final. Apart from anything, it would be interesting to see how many people turned off their TV volume and switched on the radio instead.
As to whether it work, you only have to look as far as Australia, where Roy Slaven and HG Nelson's surreal and extremely funny radio commentaries on the Aussie Rules and Rugby League Grand Finals are a national institution.
The week's award for commentating excellence, however, goes to Johnathan Gould and Todd Macklin of Major League Baseball (Channel Five, Monday), whose live feed of the game between New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians was stripped of any sound whatsoever for the first four innings by Hurricane Floyd. As it was, the boys made a sterling recovery despite the added problem of a complete lack of action in the game. One you could definitely describe as a storming performance.
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
Latest in Sport
Luis Suarez: Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo
'Adel Taarabt is about three stone overweight. I can't pick him' - Harry Redknapp
Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
Arsenal vs Hull: Gary Lineker and Piers Morgan lead criticism of Arsene Wenger after 'uncomfortable' interview with Jacqui Oatley
QPR vs Liverpool match report: Liverpool snatch victory in seven late minutes of madness
- 1 Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
- 4 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 5 Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver allegedly kicks gay couple off for kissing
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...
£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...